Two incredibly hot bands from two sides of the Atlantic, one of the most anticipated tours of the year, one invited audience and hundreds of guitars. It can only be the Jared James Nicholls and Collateral show at Gibson Guitars.
The lucky few who were packed into the basement at the Central London showroom were treated to an up close and personal evening of joyous and kinetic rock music that tore apart the naysayers with their ridiculously redundant mantra of “rock is dead”. If anything, the two artists proved last night that not only is rock alive but in ruder health than it’s been for a very long time.
Having just hit the charts with their freshly released debut album, Collateral had a lot to celebrate and opening number ‘Mr Big Shot’ kicked off the evening with a roar of self-confidence and fire. Exuding stadium filling attitude, the Kent four piece’s hook-filled hard rock and cocksure performance is touched with a real star quality, marking them out to be one of the greatest hopes this country has had in a long time to wrestle the enormo-domes from the likes of the solo singer-songwriters or American pop music artists that usually populate them in the Summer months.
Singer Angelo Tristran is a striking figure, bare chested, band logo emblazoned leather jacket and two tone hair, he acts the ringmaster in front of crowd that are immediately putty in his hands and the pockets of already rampant fans of the band are immediately swelled by new converts.
Considerably heavier than its recorded incarnation, the track is a blast of rocket powered fury but never loses the hookiness that makes it so instantly appealing. The same goes for the next song, new single ‘Merry Go Round’, which is greeted by a further breakout of singing that’s utterly infectious, guitarist Todd Winger throwing shapes as bass player Jack Bentley-Smith and drummer Ben Atkinson put every once of energy into their performance.
Rounding off the short but sweet set, country rock tinged debut release ‘Midnight Queen’ was another blast and showed amply the range and quality of song writing at their fingertips. With a meteorically rising profile, powered by hard work and commitment, it seems like nothing can stop Collateral and you get the feeling that it won’t be long before Tristran will be uttering that famous cry of “Good evening Wembley!”.
After a short break and with the sound of Pat travers ‘Snorting Whisky’ blasting out of the speakers it was time for Jared James Nichols and band to take over the stage as they tore into ‘The Gun’, the towering guitarist/singer a mass of flying hair and blurred fretwork.
This was truly visceral hard rocking blues, made even more astounding by the fact that Nichols eschews the use of any sort of plectrum, the bare flesh of his fingers diamond hard and wringing out monstrously huge riffs out of his Gibson. With only its third live outing, ‘Throw Me to the Wolves’ was a great blues stomper, full of sinewy power and achingly good twists that lifted it from the norm. Partway through the song a snatch of the ‘Feel Like Making Love’ was a nice nod to former Bad Company six stringer Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell who stood in the crowd, the tribute eliciting a smile from those there who were aware of his presence.
With its thunder and rain intro, fan favourite ‘Nails in the Coffin’ was a bruising and perfect closer, long-time drummer Dennis Holms percussive force shaking the walls. As dark and brooding as a Midwest storm, the track displayed deft touches and incredible dynamics that Jimmy Page at his magnificent best would have been proud of.
There was just time for one more song as Tristran was invited onstage for a slightly rag tag, but stirring, cover of ZZ Top’s ‘Sharp Dressed Man’, the two men having only met earlier that day and thrown the number in last minute. There was much laughter as Tristan failed twice to get fist bumped by Nichols, the guitarist so focussed on getting the track started that he missed the singer’s attempts.
Fortunately, it was all smiles afterwards as, fists well and truly bumped, the musicians stood on stage, bathing in the appreciation of a crowd who had been well and truly entertained. With the tour kicking off properly in Nottingham tonight and rolling onto the end of March there’s never been a better time to catch two incredible bands who are just at the brink of superstardom. Catch them while you can as you’d be a fool to miss it.
Review by Paul Monkhouse
Photography by Darren Smith